Saunders updates on progress after Development Squad outing
Sam Saunders said he felt good after getting his first hour of pitch time as he continues his recovery from a calf injury. The attacking midfield player suffered a calf tear while playing on loan for Wycombe Wanderers in the Sky Bet League Two Play-Off Final in May.
He has been back in training for a month but only resumed full training with the group last week. He played an hour for Brentford’s Development Squad in a 3-1 win over Birmingham City at St Andrew’s last night, setting up the third goal. Sam admitted he hoped to be back sooner and wanted to impress new Head Coach Marinus Dijkhuizen but felt good after the match and now wanted to push on.
He said: “The fitness wasn’t an issue. I felt the game was at an easy tempo. We had the ball a lot of the time. It was good to be out on the pitch.
“It was disappointing to miss the start of pre-season with the lads and a new gaffer. You want to impress. It is another step for me. I would have hoped to be back earlier but I had a 12cm tear in my calf. That took its toll and time to heal.
“It felt good tonight and in the next week or two we can push the training on. I have trained with the boys over the last ten days. The first week I was getting niggles but have felt better in the last three or four days. I need to push the injury to push it again. It was nice to test it on a full size pitch.
“It wasn’t the hardest test but it was good to get 60 minutes and I felt fine. The pitch was big and you run more than in training. It’s a different test to training. The plan was to get through it and it was great. Hopefully we can progress from there.”
Sam said he was impressed by the performance of Brentford’s Under-21 side last night and said he could see what Development Squad Manager Lee Carsley and his assistant Kevin O’Connor had been working on. The Bees won 3-1 thanks to a brace from Jan Holldack and one from Daniel O’Shaughnessy, from Sam’s corner.
He played just behind striker Seika Jatta – the number ten role – and said it was where he would like to play for The Bees at First Team level. Sam said that with Alex Pritchard, who played that role last season, back at Tottenham Hotspur after a loan spell he hoped to get a chance.
He said: “The young lads played some really good stuff. I was pleasantly surprised. Lee has them playing nice football.
“We snapped the ball back when we lost it. Birmingham must not have enjoyed tonight. They couldn’t get out of their half for long periods. We had some nice play, individually and as a team.
“It was very promising and you can see what Lee and Kev have been working at in pre-season. They looked disciplined and good.
“I like to play that role. I enjoy it there. English teams don’t generally use that sort of player. We did last season but I had the obstacle of Alex Pritchard in front of me and he was on fire. There will hopefully be an opportunity to me now he has gone. I will play anywhere to play for Brentford but I would love to play there.”
A full interview with Sam Saunders is available below for Bees Player subscribers.